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Keep Those Pearly Whites Shining Bright


Last updated 10/6/2006 at Noon

One of the most noticeable things on a person is his smile. A bright smile can lighten up even the worst of days. Unfortunately, a less-than-stellar smile filled with yellow teeth or swollen gums is sometimes can be even more memorable than a mouthful of pearly whites, and a source of embarrassment.

Infrequent visits to the dentist can contribute to poor oral health. Part of the problem a person’s fear of the dentist - a widespread phobia. However, much of the stress of dental visits can be alleviated if dental care at home reduces the need for picking and drilling by a dentist. Follow these easy suggestions for taking care of your teeth throughout the year.

• Follow the routine. Part of what makes so many people fearful of the dentist’s chair when they arrive for a checkup is that they know they haven’t followed his advice since the previous visit. By establishing a good daily routine, you can rest assured your dentist will be smiling the next time he takes a look at your smile.

• Always brush at least twice a day. Once in the morning and once at night before you go to sleep. Ideally, your teeth will be in the best shape if you brush after each meal and snack. Include flossing as part of your daily routine as well.

• Use the right tools, and store them correctly. The key to most jobs is using the right tools to get the job done. For instance, a plumber can’t fix a broken sink with the wrong type of wrench. The same can be said for people hoping to improve the health of their teeth. Many people don’t use the correct toothbrush every morning. So while they might be diligently brushing their teeth each day, the work could be largely for naught. For example, the American Dental Association (ADA) points out that toothbrushes with frayed bristles will not do a good job of brushing your teeth. As a result, ADA suggests replacing the brush every three to four months or when the bristles begin to fray, whichever comes first.

Another problem many might not realize concerns where to keep their toothbrush. While some might feel it’s safest to keep their toothbrush stored in a container (such as a travel tube) at all times, that’s not the case at all, warns the ADA. Moist environments such as closed containers only encourage the growth of potentially harmful microorganisms. Storing a toothbrush in open air makes the brush less susceptible to such growth.

This doesn’t mean travel tubes are bad when you’re on the road. But on a daily basis it’s best to keep a brush stored in open air. For those expressly concerned with keeping their brush bacteria-free, soaking the brush in anti-bacterial mouthwash during periods of non-use has proven effective.

• Brush correctly. While most are aware brushing at least twice a day is recommended, that doesn’t mean those people know how to brush. The Mayo Clinic notes that the ideal way to brush is to place the brush at an angle against your teeth and use short and swift back-and-forth motions. Clean the backs as well as the chewing surfaces of your teeth, and brush your tongue as well.

• Gums are part of your smile, too. Putting off visits to the dentist will only make the visits worse when you finally do end up going. Numerous developments should be cause for concern and a dentist should be consulted. Red, tender or swollen gums are not easily fixed by brushing more softly. Rather, a dentist should be the one to determine how to care for such gums. In addition, gums that regularly bleed during brushing but don’t feel sore should not be written off as a result of vigorous brushing. Anytime the gums start to worsen or appear out of the ordinary, the best option is to visit the dentist as soon as possible.

Also, keep an eye on gums that appear to be retracting. Teeth will begin to look bigger if this is the case, and this needs to be remedied with a trip to the dentist. Additionally, gum problems like gingivitis can be linked to other serious concerns like stroke, so take oral health seriously.


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